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(Isaiah 2:3)

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Please read the Introductory Notes to this commentary.

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Sections of the Apostolic Writings
The Gospels and Acts • The “Pauline” Letters • General Letters • End Times

Acts: Introductory Notes and Outline
Chapters:   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14
15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28

P’yilut HaSh'liakim
The Acts of the Emissaries

~ 27 ~

[Caesarea MAP] Late Summer, 60 CE]

P. The Perilous Journey to Rome (27:1-28:16)

1. Sha'ul Sent to Rome (27:1-13)

1When it was decided that we were to sail to Italy, they handed over Sha'ulPaul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Regiment named Julius. 2We boarded a ship of Adramyttium, MAP] which planned to sail to places along the coast of Asia, and we put out to sea; Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, MAP] was with us. 3The next day, we docked at Sidon. MAP] Julius treated Sha'ul kindly, and gave him permission to go to his friends and receive their care.

 4Putting to sea from there, we sailed leewarddownwind [to the north] of KyprosCyprus MAP], because the winds were against us. 5When we had sailed across the open sea off the coast of Cilicia MAP] and Pamphylia MAP], we came to Myra MAP] in Lycia. 6There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy put us on board. 7When we had sailed slowly for many days, we had come with difficulty near Cnidus MAP]. The wind did not allow us to approach it, so we sailed leeward of Crete MAP], off Salmone MAP]. 8With even more difficulty we  sailed the coast until we came to a place called Fair Havens MAP] near the city of Lasea. [MAP]

[Crete [MAP] October 60 CE]

9After a long time, the voyage was becoming more dangerous, because it was already after Yom-Kippur[9]. Sha'ul warned them, 10“Men, I can see that this voyage is heading toward damage and severe loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” 11But the centurion paid more attention to the captain and the owner of the ship than to what Sha'ul had said. 12Since the harbor was unsuitable for wintering, the majority decided to set sail from there, hoping they could somehow reach Phoenix MAP], a harbor on Crete that faces both southwest and northwest, and winter there.

13When a gentle south wind started blowing they thought they had achieved their purpose, so they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to shore.

2. The Storm (27:14-20)

 14But before long a full gale from the northeast, called an Euroclydon, swept down from the shore. 15Since the ship was caught and couldn’t face into the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. 16Running under the shelter of a small island called Clauda MAP], we were finally able, with great difficulty, to regain control of the lifeboat. 17After they had hoisted it up, they used hawsers to help reinforce the ship.[17a] Fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis Sands,[17b] MAP] they lowered the sea anchor and were being driven along. 18Beause we were being so badly batered by the storm, the next day they began to throw their cargo overboard. 19On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20When we could see neither sun nor stars for many days[20] and the storm kept raging on, we lost all hope that we would survive.

3. Sha'ul Saves the Crew (27:21-38)

21When they had been without food for some time, Sha'ul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have followed my advice to not have set sail from Crete and sustained all this damage and loss. 22Now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of any of your lives, but only of the ship. 23For last night an angel of the God I belong to and serve stood beside me 24and said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Sha'ul. You must stand before Caesar. Hinneh![GN] God has granted you the lives of everyone sailing with you.’ 25So keep up your courage, gentlemen! Because I believe God that it will be exactly as I was told. 26However, we must run aground on some island.”

[Adriatic Sea MAP] November 60 CE]

27Fourteen nights later, as we were being driven across the Adriatic Sea,[27a] in the middle of the night the sailors sensed they were approaching land.[27b] 28They took soundings and found the water was twenty fathoms deep.[28] A little while later they took soundings again, and found the depth was fifteen fathoms [90 feet]. 29Fearing that we would run aground on a rocky shoal, they let down four anchors from the stern, and hoped for daylight. 30Some of the sailors were trying to abandon ship. Pretending that they were going lay out anchors from the bow, they had lowered the lifeboat into the sea. 31Sha'ul told the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you yourselves won’t survive.” 32So the soldiers cut ropes from the lifeboat, and let it fall away.

33When it was almost daybreak Sha'ul urged them all to eat, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have been waiting and going without food, having eaten nothing. 34So I urge you to eat some food. This has to do with your survival, since not a hair will be lost from any of your heads.” 35When he had said this, he took bread and said the HaMotzi[35] in the presence of all, and when he had broken it he began to eat. 36They were all encouraged, and they also ate. 37In all there were two hundred seventy-six souls on the ship. 38When they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain overboard.

4. The Crew Escapes the Sinking Ship (27:39-44)

39When daylight came, they didn’t recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a sandy beach and decided to try to run the ship aground there. 40They cast off all the anchors and left them in the sea, while untying the ropes that were securing the rudder. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and made for the beach. 41But they struck a sandbar and ran the vessel aground. The bow jammed and remained immovable, but the stern began to break up by the pounding of the waves.

42The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners so that none of them would swim off and escape. 43But the centurion, wanting to save Sha'ul, thwarted their plan and ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and swim ashore, 44Then rest were to follow, some on planks, and some on other debris from the ship. So they all escaped safely to shore.

Chapter 28

 9. Here Luke is simply giving a calendar reference so his readers would understand the weather conditions. Yom Kippur occurs in late autumn (September/October), when the weather on the Medeterranian Sea becomes quite treacherous. This would be like a North American saying it was December in Fargo, North Dakota. [BACK]

17a. They wrapped heavy ropes all the way around the ship to hold it together. [BACK]

17b. The Syrtus Sands lie just off the coast of modern Lybia in northern Africa, just southeast of Tripoli. [MAP] The area is nearly 200 miles wide and many miles away from shore.

“Why were the sailors afraid of the Syrtis Sands? The Syrtis is two bodies of water in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of North Africa. Even with 'good luck' (Procopius' words), the sailors on the Alexandrian grain ship carrying the Apostle Paul and Dr. Luke were terrified because they knew they were doomed if they hit the Syrtis Sands. The grain ships were the largest ships plying the Mediterranean Sea at that time, with a deep draft, and they would easily have gotten grounded on a sandbar in the middle of no-where and many miles from any shoreline! The old sailor's axiom would hold true: 'Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink!' They would have had plenty of grain to eat on the ship, but not a drop of water to go with it. They were afraid of a slow and painful death by dehydration.” ( [Full article here.]

They had been blown halfway across the Mediterranian Sea. [BACK]

20. With neither sun nor stars visible, they had no way of navigating, or of even determining their location. [BACK]

27a. The Adriatic Sea MAP] lies between Italy and Greece. In fourteen days they had been driven northward from Lybia MAP] across the entire Mediterranian Sea to the east of Italy. [BACK]

27b. As the water was becoming more shallow, the ship would have had a very different feel. [BACK]

28. A fathom is about 6 feet, so the water was 120 feet deep. [BACK]

35. The HaMotzi is the traditional blessing said before eating any food, particularly bread. Please note that it is God Who is being blessed, not the food: “Baruch atah, ADONAI Eloheinu, Melech haolam, haMotzi lechem min ha'aretz. Omein. Blessed are You, ADONAI our God, King of the Universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth. Amen.” MORE] [BACK]

Originally poste on Tuesday, 12 May 2020
Revised some text; added historical notes, map references, and outline on Friday, 25 June 2021

Page last updated on Sunday, 16 April 2023 02:40 PM
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
Major content changes are identified as "Revisions”)

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